The recent new cases of Covid-19 in Hong Kong, some community based, will need to be weighed as a factor when judging how quickly that city can participate in a travel bubble system with Macau and places in mainland China, says Wilfred Wong Ying Wai (pictured in a file photo), president of Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd.
Hong Kongers accounted for just over 7.35 million trips – or about 18.7 percent – of Macau’s 2019 tally of more than 39 million arrivals. Since the advent of the Covid-19 crisis, visitor numbers from there and from mainland China – Macau’s main supply market for tourists – have declined sharply.
Hong Kong reported 48 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday alone, most of them confirmed by the local health authorities as “epidemiologically linked” with a “local” case or cases, according to the local government’s dedicated website on the topic.
But Sands China executive Mr Wong told Chinese-language news outlet the Hong Kong Economic Journal he was hopeful of further incremental improvements in opportunities for inbound travel to Macau – including possibly the resumption of the mainland’s exit visa system for independent travellers, known as the Individual Visit Scheme. Investment analysts indicate that holders of such visas are typically more valuable customers for Macau’s casino resorts than are members of mainland escorted-tour groups.
But he said travel easing depended on a number of factors, including how Hong Kong’s Covid-19 infection cases evolve, and the nature of “recovery conditions” in China’s internal market for inter-provincial travel.
Things also depended he suggested, on how smoothly runs the quarantine-free arrangement with effect from Wednesday (July 15) for travel from Macau to Guangdong. Mainland residents had mostly not needed to go into quarantine when entering Macau, but had faced it for the return home, which analysts had suggested had been a likely disincentive for mainlanders to come to Macau in the first place.
Since Monday, all people travelling from Hong Kong to Macau via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge must hold a certificate proving they have tested negative for Covid-19 infection. Upon arriving Macau, any such travellers are still required to undergo a 14-day quarantine arrangement in Macau.
Since the start of the calendar year and up to Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Department of Health had recorded 1,570 Covid-19 cases, including eight fatalities.
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Carlo Santarelli and Steven Pizzella
Deutsche Bank analysts